Notable Releases of the Week (1/21)
I highlight seven below, Bill tackles more in Indie Basement (including The Soundcarriers, Boy Harsher, the King Gizzard remix album, and one of the ones also highlighted below), and more honorable mentions include: Jana Horn, SOM (members of Caspian, Junius, and Constants), 40 Watt Sun, Miles Kane, Years & Years, Slowbleed, Iann Dior (ft. Travis Barker, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Uzi Vert & more), James Yorkston & The Second Hand Orchestra, Janis Ian, Night Crickets (Bauhaus, Violent Femmes), Silverbacks, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Billy Talent, Reptaliens, Kids On A Crime Spree, Vado, Slim Thug, Brad Barr, the Yellowjackets soundtrack, the Prize Horse EP, the Si Dios Quiere EP, the Rich Brian EP, the Ergs! EP, the Great American Ghost EP, the Young Dolph tribute EP, the Zetra EP, and the Unwed Sailor live EP.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Rest in peace, Meat Loaf.
Pedro the Lion - Havasu
Back in 2019, David Bazan reactivated Pedro the Lion and returned with the band's first album in 15 years, Phoenix. A truly great comeback, Phoenix added to PTL's legacy with songs that picked up right where the band left off and never felt like rehashed versions of older material. Turns out that Pedro the Lion is really back in it for the long haul, and Phoenix was apparently the first album in a five-album series, each one named after and inspired by a different place David Bazan has lived. The second, Havasu, was surprise-released this week. Picking right up where Phoenix left off, Havasu feels like classic Pedro the Lion, and you don't need to be a nostalgia-seeking longtime fan to appreciate it. Pedro the Lion's emo/indie rock crossover was ahead of its time -- there are way more bands that toe that line today than there were 20 years ago -- and the reunion has felt like a way for the band to come back into a future they helped create. As on PTL's past albums, what really makes Havasu stand out is David Bazan's highly detailed, personal songwriting. Sonically, Havasu isn't a major departure for Pedro the Lion, but it's the depth of the songs that make them resonate as strongly as the band's classic material. Havasu reminds you that, perhaps more than anything else, David Bazan is just a great storyteller.
Anxious - Little Green House
Run For Cover
Bridging the gap between harmony-laden power pop and gritty hardcore, Anxious have written an emo album for the ages with their debut LP Little Green House. For much more on this LP, read my recent feature on the band, interview and album review included.
Pick up the Anxious album on color vinyl.
Boris - W
At this point, there's truly no other band in the world like Boris, and you never know what they're going to do next. In 2020, they self-released NO, one of the thrashiest, punkiest albums of their nearly-30-year career. Turns out it's part one of a two-part project which concludes with W. (Together, they spell "NOW.") W, the band's first album for Sacred Bones, starts with the same melody that NO ended with, but it's otherwise an entirely different album. This one focuses largely on the band's gentle. atmospheric side, and guitarist/keyboardist Wata handles lead vocals for the entire album. These are some of the prettiest songs in Boris' vast discography, but the album still sounds like Boris, and it still has its fair share of moments of sludge and darkness. This isn't the first time that Boris have explored lighter, decidedly non-metal music, but I don't think Boris have ever released an entire album that feels quite like W. That's what makes them so consistently exciting even after three decades; even when they revisit directions taken on previous albums, they reinvent themselves in the process.
Pick up the new Boris album on limited-to-300 "sea blue with black blob" vinyl.
Comeback Kid - Heavy Steps
Comeback Kid never really went anywhere, but Heavy Steps feels like (no pun intended) a comeback for a few reasons. It closes a five-year gap between albums, their longest break so far, and it comes at a time when the melodic hardcore that CBK helped pioneer in the early/mid 2000s is influential on an exciting new generation of bands, some of whom CBK recently toured (or were supposed to tour... COVID) with, like One Step Closer and Scowl. With their long-awaited return coinciding with the increased relevancy of their genre, the timing is right for Comeback Kid to drop a banger of a record and that's exactly what Heavy Steps is. With a gnarly yet anthemic sound, the songs on Heavy Steps are pit-starters as much as they're singalongs, and as always, Comeback Kid know how to sound accessible without watering anything down.
Pick up the Comeback Kid album on white vinyl.
Age of Apocalypse - Grim Wisdom
Closed Casket Activities
To quote a 2015 Metal Hammer retrospective on Life of Agony, "Ostensibly LOA would have sat easily with the Agnostic Fronts and the Vision Of Disorders of this world, with their crossover thrash riffs and two-step rhythms, if it were not for one person; vocalist [Mina] Caputo. Here was someone within the hardcore scene that could actually sing, not bark or growl, but genuinely sing." History repeats itself, and roughly 30 years later, the New York Hardcore scene has birthed a band that fits that same description: Age of Apocalypse. So far, AOA have exclusively played hardcore shows, they look like a hardcore band on stage, and their chunky riffs feel straight out of '80s/'90s metallic hardcore, but vocalist Dylan Kaplowitz has a belted howl that only rarely incorporates a traditional hardcore bark. Their melodic sound makes them easy to latch onto, and it's no surprise that they've been quickly rising up in the world. After putting out their 2020 debut EP The Way and a much-loved 2021 split with Pain of Truth on the small Fuzz and DAZE labels, respectively, they inked a deal with Closed Casket Activities (Vein.fm, Portrayal of Guilt, Gatecreeper, etc) and linked up with producer and Twitching Tongues member Taylor Young (Regional Justice Center, Drain, Section H8, etc) for their debut LP Grim Wisdom, which seems poised to be the band's breakthrough. If you're nostalgic for bands like LOA, Grim Wisdom scratches the itch, and in an age where Turnstile is bringing hardcore/alt-rock crossover back to the forefront of mainstream music, Grim Wisdom adds a little fuel to that fire too.
Che Noir - Food For Thought
The cold, hard, gritty sounds of mid '90s NYC rap aren't dead; they just moved upstate. And it's more than just Griselda. Fellow Buffalo rapper Che Noir is helping to lead the movement too, and after putting out three albums in 2020 and having a much quieter 2021, she's now back with a new album, Food For Thought. Featuring other upstate New Yorkers like Ransom, 38 Spesh, and 7xvethegenius (and Brooklyn's likeminded Rome Streetz), the album finds Che and her peers doing what they do best, keeping the focus on classic-style bars and lyricism and doing a lot of justice to their '90s forebears. Che's also a great producer, having helmed about half of Food For Thought's beats herself, and her production is just as loyal to the boom bap era as her words are.
Yard Act - The Overload
Yard Act's debut album The Overload was crowned Album of the Week over in Bill's Indie Basement, and Bill writes, "UK band bring fond memories of the '00s while putting a fresh spin on shouty, poppy post-punk," comparing them to Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Art Brut and The Rakes, as well as post-punk pioneers Gang of Four.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or scroll down for previous weeks.
For even more metal, browse the 'Upcoming Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.
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